I was in Galway a few weeks ago and I took a good few photos while I was there with my X-Pro1. Unfortunately, I haven't really been that happy with them for a number of reasons. First of all, the weather wasn't very good and so the light wasn't very good. But more than that I've been having a bear of a time post processing them. [UPDATE] Just to be clear, I'm talking about getting the best quality RAW conversion here - not necessarily processing to add effects etc - and while I may have done so in the case of these images anyway, that's a separate discussion to the issues I'm raising here. As it stands, this is a real problem with the X-Pro1. Each method of dealing with the files from this camera has its issues. Some people swear by the JPEG output, saying it's as good as RAW and so on. In my opinion this simply isn't true. While the JPEGS are very clean and free from artefacts, they suffer from some serious colour bleeding. This leads to a processed and somewhat cheap look. It's fine on some images, but anything with areas of strong colour contrast just bleeds, and in my opinion it's quite significant. You don't even need to zoom in to see it which makes me wonder how everyone says the jpegs are perfect?
So that leaves us with the Raw files. Currently there are two approaches to dealing with the Raw files. You can either use Fuji's supplied Raw Converter (a special version of Silkypix) or Lightroom / Camera Raw. Lightroom / ACR's issues with X-Pro1 files has been well documented. The chroma smearing of fine detail leads to a completely un-natural "water-colour" effect. While this is passable for some images depending on the content, anything with a lot of fine detail just looks ridiculous. Silkypix on the other hand does a much better job of handling the fine detail but it has some serious difficulty handling the highlights. Lightroom on the other hand does a really good job of handling the highlights, but the files are only useable if you intend to down sample them. Another thing I've noticed with the Silkypix conversion is that there is some weird scaling artefact going on. I know that lens correction is done during the raw conversion and in camera (because I've used a beta of another piece of software that lets you truly see the raw file and you can see that he geometry is uncorrected) so perhaps it's just a poor antialiasing algorithm. You wouldn't really notice it unless you zoomed in, but I suspect the good folks at iStock and Getty would reject your shots for this.
So there is the quandary. You have this camera that people are raving about but there's currently no way to get the best out of it (in my opinion). Unfortunately there's also a lot of emotion surrounding it and it's very hard to have a rational discussion, because some people are so passionate about it (and arrogant about it too). Fans of the X-Pro 1 are saying he most ridiculous things to justify what is a good but flawed camera. The usual argeuement goes something along the lines of "if you don't like this camera you're a bad photographer" which is kind of a straw man way of setting you up to get you out of having to justify the numerous problems the x-pro1 has. The other argument is that the X100 was "fixed" with firmware updates so you shouldn't say anything bad about the X-Pro1 because Fuji will probably fix it too. The thing is though, those of us who bought the camera, did so to use it now, not a year down the road when it's "fixed." But of course, because I have issues with it, I'm a bad photographer apparently. How the camera locking up, the delay when pressing the shutter, the fact that the histogram doesn't update when in manual exposure (I could go on and on) etc is the fault of the photographer escapes me but anyway, I'm sure I'll be in the dog house for expressing a negative opinion.
At the end of the day, yes the camera can take great pictures, and yes any good photographer can work around the issues, but thats a giant cop out because it doesn't excuse those issues. Sure you can use the skills you have to shoot like it's 1970's and you're using a leica, but it's not, it's 2012, and you should be able to use the features of your camera without having to jump through numerous hoops to get the best from it. Fuji is advertising this as a fast and responsive camera and yet when you press the shutter button it can take up to a second before it takes a shot and if you shoot a bracketed exposure it locks up the whole camera for several seconds. So for those who insist that it's just a matter of the photographer's skill, absolutely any skilled photographer can take great shots with the X-Pro1, but you're missing a whole lot more that you could have taken if you weren't so caught up in the fact that you're using something that looks like a leica. I know this will offend some people, and I really don't like offending people, but when some photographers are writing such ridiculous things like "it's sharper than a D800" that are just not based in any kind of reality, then it makes the issues even more annoying knowing that you can't problem solve or discuss issues without getting someone's back up. I do like the experience shooting with this camera when the circumstances allow you to work around the bugs, and I still think it has the potential to be a great camera but it feels more like an advanced prototype than a finished product. I could keep pretending this is the best camera ever so as not to offend anyone, but this is my opinion so take it or leave it.
Anyway, enough negativity, on to the pictures! I did get some shots I'm almost happy with, although I'm still not happy with the way I've post processed them. I wen't a bit overboard with some of the shots, so consider these a little more experimental than anything. I started trying the jpegs, and I did get some nice results, but the colour bleeding was annoying me so I went back and processed the raw files with silkypix using the super flat option. I then brought them into Aperture and took it from there. Some are over processed, but anyway...
Moody sky over Galway Bay
Low tide over the bay
Interesting mural on the side of a pub in the city
Ah, Irish summers!
Cool Graffitti. There was a few of these on a bench by the river. Well, one of the rivers. There seems to be waterways everywhere in Galway.
Needless to say, no one was walking on the footpath
I love that you can find this kind of natural beauty in the centre of a town
Now that's a funny address.
Chef takes a break
Building a bridge! Seriously, they were building a bridge. Apparently by the end of the week it was finished too.